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New Device Detects Concussions By Tracking Eyes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The Food and Drug Administration has cleared a new device that can detect a brain injury.

CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez says it's done by watching images on a small screen. What your eyes are doing while watching is what indicates a brain injury. That's important because up until now there hasn't been a reliable, objective way to diagnose a concussion.

The device looks a lot like the kind of gadget an eye doctor would use to check vision, but it's actually a very sophisticated eye tracking device called EyeBOX.

"It follows the movement of your pupils and can then detect abnormal movements," said Dr. Uzma Samadani, who works with Oculogica, the company behind the EyeBOX.

Gomez reports he first learned of EyeBOX when it was in clinical trials four years ago at the NYU Cohen Veterans Center. Dr. Samadani said the key is whether a patient's eyes follow an image together. In a normal test, the right and left eye tracks look the same. If there's a significant difference in tracking between eyes, that's a clear sign of a concussion.

"You can't fake moving eyes together and you can't fake not moving them together," Dr. Samadani said.

The importance of that was clear back then with Dirk Kaufman, an avid mountain cyclist in the woods and in the city, where he had a serious bike accident.

"I don't remember leaving the house that day. I don't remember the accident. I don't remember the FDNY taking me to the hospital," Kaufman said.

Brain scans showed a bump on his head but no evidence of a brain injury. It was the prototype EyeBOX that showed that he had indeed suffered a serious concussion.

The EyeBOX is simple enough to be used in almost any healthcare setting: ERs, doctors offices, urgent care clinics. Dr. Samadani says with FDA clearance, it will make a big difference in concussion medicine.

"This will change the way we define and diagnose brain injuries," Dr. Samadani said.

Importantly, as the left and right eye tracks start to look more and more alike, that means the brain is recovering from a concussion.

While the EyeBOX is a medical device, Dr. Samadani says a consumer version for smartphones is in the works and could be available in a year or two.

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